Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Help Bradley Manning

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past little while you know about Wikileaks. What I did not know until yesterday was that Bradley Manning was in the brig at Quantico for allegedly releasing classified documents to Wikileaks. 

He's been there, in solitary confinement for 5 months. They also have him under a “Prevention of Injury” (POI) order. Which among other things means that he is not allowed clothing when he sleeps and he is only given a heavy blanket that cannot be used as a ligature. His lawyer and a psychiatrist say that there is no reason for the POI. It is just another form of torture.

Please click here to sign a letter demanding that the inhumane treatment of Bradley Manning be stopped. You'll also find more information about what is being done to him when he has not been convicted of any crime.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean Sounded Like a Good Idea...


Let me start off by saying that I'm a BzzAgent. I got a free bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-a-Clean Power Sprayer to try out. The idea was that if I liked it I'd talk about it here and other places. I've been a BzzAgent for about 3 years. I haven't gotten that many free products. Of the ones I have, most of them I don't like so I don't say anything. I think if you can't say something nice...

Until now.

There are two other things you should know. A few years ago I damaged both of my arms. I have very little strength in either arm. Scrubbing a tub is very hard for me. The other important thing is that strong chemical smells trigger migraines and can bring on an asthma attack.

I signed on to the Scrubbing Bubbles campaign because I thought the power sprayer might be better for me to use. And I was right. My hand didn't cramp from pumping the trigger. Yeah!

My problem started about 30 seconds after I sprayed the tub. I couldn't breath. I'd taken precautions. I'd turned on every fan and opened every window in my apartment. I also put on a mask. Didn't help. I let the bubbles do their work and grabbed my rescue inhaler and my migraine meds.

It doesn't say on the bottle which chemicals are inside. It doesn't have to(!) The only thing it does list is lactic acid. If you don't have a problem with chemicals maybe this product will work for you.

Aside from my chemical problem, I was shocked that it took half of the bottle to cover my tub and tiles. At $8.99 for the starter sprayer I think that's pretty terrible. Two uses and I'd have to buy a refill. On the plus side it is refillable and the refills are around $4.99. The sprayer uses batteries but I suppose you could use rechargeables there.

One of the selling points for this product is that it will keep the surface clean for up to 4 days. According to the info I was given when I got my free bottle:
Hydrophilic (water-loving) properties in the formula attract water droplets to each other to form a flat, even film.
The film keeps dirt, soap scum and grim from sticking to the surface of your sink, shower or tub
The next time you rinse, the water glides over the film while washing away the loosened dirt, grime and soap scum, leaving behind a thinner layer of film for up to four days.

Hmmm. Is it for days if there are one or two people using the tub/shower? Six people? Seems to me there would be a difference if chemicals are released each time the area gets wet.

And speaking of that... it sounds like chemicals are released each time the water hits the "film." That can't be good in a bath. They won't tell you what chemicals are in the product so do you really want unknown substances floating around your private parts? Or your child's? Or your pet's?

That's another thing about my life. I often have assistance dogs in my home. They come into the bathroom when I'm in the shower. The one I have right now likes to lick the tub. I had to scrub the areas he can reach with vinegar and baking soda because I was worried about chemicals being "activated" by his saliva.

The last thing I want to say about this product is a warning. Be careful when you step into the shower/tub the next day. My bathtub mat would not adhere properly to the surface of the tub. I'm lucking that there are safety bars (from a previous tenant) or I might not be here now. I should have taken a picture of the bruises but I was too angry to think about it. This slippery problem continued until the "film" was gone.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I Have Seen My Future and I Don't Like It One Bit!

For the past six weeks I've been living my future.

For those of you who don't know, I started losing my hearing a few years ago and earlier this year I got my first pair of hearing aids. Let me tell you they're a pain in the ass to adjust too.

I haven't been wearing them for a couple of months because there's no point. I am currently almost completely deaf.

It all started with a "simple" cold. On the Labour Day weekend I sat in the shade and wind all day at the PADS walk. I started sniffling the next day. By the PADS Graduation at the end of September I was really sick.

I've been coughing my lungs out since then. That's life with Asthma. There's no such thing as "a bit of a cold." My colds last months and move from my head to my chest and then back again. And again. And again. I currently have bronchitis. Five weeks in. Let me tell you I'm sick of it.

As an added attraction, I have "fluid" behind my eardrum. That means that the eardrum can't vibrate so I'm deaf in that ear. My other ear isn't great either.

I've got to tell you that being deaf is TOTALLY frustrating. I can't use my cell phone because I can't hear very much without my handy gadget that connects my hearing aids (which I'm not wearing) to my cell phone.

In stores I usually have to ask people to repeat things. I've had a workman in my apartment the last two weeks who, even though I've told him that if he turns away from me when he talks I won't hear him, insists on turning away from me when speaking to me. Makes me want to smash something over his head.

I pretty much don't want to go out where it's even noisier than in my apartment. I'd rather do all my communicating over the internet.

So what's the big deal? Chances are very good that I will be completely deaf some day. My mother started losing her hearing at about the same age as me. She went completely deaf. I've inherited all of her ailments so there's no reason to suspect that I will not go deaf too. If I'm lucky I'll get myself a hearing dog...

I'm going on record to say that I don't like it. It's really aggravating. You have no idea how aggravating until you suddenly lose what you take for granted. It sucks.

Protect your ears people. The alternative is not fun.

Friday, November 5, 2010

There is a word I could do without

The word is "tolerance."

You may feel that something like "religious tolerance" would be a good thing. My problem is with the root meaning of the word. To tolerate is to "put up with something or somebody unpleasant..." It implies that the thing or person being looked upon with tolerance is somehow wrong and we must deal with it like taxes or the lack of cabs in the rain or bad manners on public transit.

I propose that we teach "acceptance" instead of tolerance. We have to accept the fact that there are jerks out there. We have to accept the fact that there will always be someone who doesn't like you. Because you're too fat or too thin. Too black or too white. Too religious or not religious enough. Or the wrong religion.

We have to accept that people will have differing opinions, customs or beliefs without making a negative judgement about the person or their customs, beliefs or opinions.

So what brought this up? Two things. The previously mentioned problem with Clint McCance and school bullies. Then this post. I think this mom is fabulous. Not everyone agrees. There are over 32,000 comments on this post. Some of them are just ugly. One of them is by a self proclaimed Christian writer (whose grammar and spelling are worse than mine and that's saying a lot) who castigates the mom for making her son a target for pedophiles.

Yeah, I know.

I'm having a bit of trouble with "accepting" her garbage. I resisted the urge to go to her blog and post something equally nasty. I'm not perfect. I have trouble accepting some things.

There are even worse comments.

Luckily the majority of comments praise this mom for her unconditional love and nurturing her son's creativity and individuality.

I went looking for a suitably pithy video about tolerance/acceptance but what I found was quite different. Sometimes you just have to say to hell with tolerance and acceptance.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We Can't Let The Rednecks Win!

I cannot tell you when the last time I was THIS PISSED OFF was.

I could have happily lived my life without knowing what people like Clint McCance have to say:

Meet Clint McCance. He's vice president of the Midland School District in Arkansas and he apparently felt put out by a call for people to wear purple as a means of highlighting the bullying problem in the wake of five recent suicides by gay teenagers. So he went on Facebook to vent.

"Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE."

As first reported by the Advocate, a magazine on gay issues, he went on to say: "It pisses me off ... that we make special purple fag day for them. I like that fags can't procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other AIDS and die. I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs." Source

So it's not news. There will always be redneck homophobes. The idea of this man being in charge of children really sickens me. I feel sorry for his kids. They now know that his love is conditional. If they want him to love them they'd better not do anything he doesn't like. No one should have to have that shoved in their faces.

In case you've been under a rock for the past few days, here are some relevant vidoes:

I've not always been impressed with Dr. Phil but my opinion of him shot up while watching him rip McCance a new one. And Asher Brown's parents! I don't know if I'd have the strength to pray for McCance.

I don't agree with all the people who have been threatening McCance and his family. Violence is not the answer. As far as I know, his children are innocent. They shouldn't be punished because their father is a dickwad.

I want all the LGBT and questioning youth to know that this jerk does not speak for all adults. He certainly doesn't speak for me or my friends. There's always going to be someone who doesn't like you for some stupid reason. That's their problem. It has nothing to do with you. It does get better. You don't have to take my word for it. Go to It Gets Better and watch some videos. You're not alone.

Some books I wish I'd had around when I was growing up:
GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Queer and Questioning Teens
The Journey Out: A Guide for and About Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Teens
Not the Only One: Lesbian and Gay Fiction for Teens

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Words Will Never Hurt Me

So Dr. Laura has been shooting her mouth off again. Dropping the "N-bomb" everywhere. I saw part of Larry King interviewing the African American woman the good doctor went off on she was very upset. After seeing the interview, I read a transcript and, I hate to say it, but I understand the point she was trying to make. If a word is "bad" (and I'm not really sure it's the word that is the problem) then it's "bad" all the time. For everyone.

Having said that, I don't think she needed to say it 11 times. I would not have said it once. She could have found a better way to get her point across. I think her point became lost in the emotional reaction to the word. She should have known saying the word would upset people. That's what the woman was calling in about.

There are a lots of people who would not say the word but they would think it. There is a part of me that says let them talk. At least we will know where they stand. It's the racists and homophobes and misogynists who hide their feelings behind smiles and pretty words that are really dangerous.

There is another part of me that says if everyone just started using the "bad" words all the time then they would lose their power. Many years ago I saw a video of Lenny Bruce talking about this subject and it had a huge affect on me. I think he was right.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Virtual Puppy Fix

Today I took a major step towards permanent Second Life (SL) citizenship. I bought a dog from the Virtual Kennel Club (VKC). Her name is Nephthys (pronounced Neffis) and she's a "Widget". I went looking for a schipperke but no one makes them. I can special order one but I shudder to think how much that would cost.

Nephthys cost me L$2000. VKC dogs can cost as much as L$5000. They're expensive because they're AI. They respond to a whole whack of commands and can learn new commands. They even make and remember friends. There are some commands that would only be found in SL like "attach 28" which attaches the dog to your spine (she shows up on my back) so that you can use a teleport (TP) together. Which is cool. We can TP from my home to the dog park in a couple of seconds. I have to remember that, with Nephthys, "heel" means walk by my side and not sit on my right side as I teach my PADS puppies.

The most unintentionally funny thing about VKC dogs is that they notice new things or things that have changed/moved. "Nephthys notice Madison" will show up in chat followed by "Nephthys greeting Madison". Which is fine, but you'll also see "Nephthys notice bowl" and "Nephthys greeting bowl". Heaven forbid you change your furniture around. The dog will go around noticing and greeting everything. One of the trainers told me a woman brought her horse to the dog park and it left a dropping behind and all the dogs "notice poop" and "greeting poop". I said it was artificial intelligence.

I've only had Nephthys a few hours and already my SL home is littered with balls, squeakies, and kongs. I have beds (yes plural), blankets and food dishes. I'm beginning to realize that there are just as many things to buy for a virtual dog as there are for a RL dog.

I've gotten attached to her. I'm feeling a little guilty that I'm not in SL with her right now. When SL crashed while we were at the dog park I worried about what was happening to her while I was gone. I don't think she cared. When I came back and found her she was at the water bowl with a bunch of other dogs.

I know I'm in for a period of learning and adjustment but I think it will be cool. I'm already hooked into a bunch of other SL dog owners. Hmm. Now I can talk about dogs in RL and SL. Is that a good thing?

BTW Nephthys looks way better than she does here. My picture is kinda crappy because I have an old graphics card and a computer that shouldn't even be able to connect to SL. A new computer is on my list of things to get...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Following The Superhero Theme

How to become a superhero*:

Or read this book: How to Be a Superhero: Your Complete Guide to Finding a Secret Headquarters, Hiring a Sidekick, Thwarting the Forces of Evil, and Much More!!

*I have no idea where this came from. Found it on a Google search and then couldn't connect to the page it was supposedly on.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

If I Was A Superhero...

You know how it is. Every time you go looking for one thing you find another. The other day I was looking for a VIP (very important paper) and I came across the picture to the right. It was created at www.whowantstobeasuperhero.com (which no longer exists.) A few years back SciFi ran a reality show by that name. Their website had a "superhero generator." You chose from a list of  noses, mouths, weapons, coats etc. This was the best I could come up with. Things had to be pretty bad for me to chose a trashcan lid as a shield.

I don't know nothin' 'bout naming no superheros. So my very uncreative name for this lovely lady was Willow Whip. I have a startling grasp of the obvious don't I? I'm thinking that her super powers have something to do with manual dexterity and eye hand coordination. I will be the first one to admit that the shades make her look like a relative of the X-Men's  Cyclops.

I spent the better part of 14 hours trying to get my printer to talk to my computer the other day so I decided to unwind by looking up superhero generators. I had to do something. Ever since I found that stupid picture of Willow I've had Superhero by Rex Smith running through my head.

There are quite a lot of superhero generators around. The first one I tried was The Hero Factory. It's all fancy and stuff.  Your choices decide the name of the hero and then they do it all up like a comic book cover. Snazzy. Do you think the sword slices through stone or is she an animated stone? Such are the important questions of 4 am.

Do they really pay people to do this for a living?

The next one I tried was The Hero Machine. I kinda like her. The mask is a bit much but I like the rest. Yes, I am stuck on the purple/green color scheme. Of all the color options this is the one I like best. Besides both colors go with the red hair. I'm not about to compromise on the red hair.

I think Ms. Blade could kick some evil doer butt. I'm sure she has some super fast "ninja" moves to go with that big sword. I know I would. Not that she'd be showy. She'd just come in, kick ass and take names and still make it to the spa in time for her bikini wax. A throughly modern woman underneath the latex.

Next came HeroMachine: Pin-Up Girl Edition. I am not making this stuff up. Imagine if Marilyn Monroe had super powers and a secret identity... oh wait... she did...

I'm not completely satisfied with her "costume" in this one. The short hair isn't doing anything for me either. Then there's my failure to figure out how to replace "Model Name" with Katana Blade. Tried numerous times. 

This girl looks like she might have to fit kicking evil butt in between lap dances. Not that there's anything wrong with being an exotic dancer. If those girls don't know what evil looks like who does?

The fourth stop on my superhero tour was HeroMachine: Rock Star Edition. Superhero. Guitar Hero. Hardly any difference. Since she doesn't resort to "KISS" makeup on stage,  she'll need a mask for fighting villains. I see something with sequins...

Her guitar is probably made out of titanium or something so that she can hit people... oh wait.. that's El Kabong's shtick. So no hitting people with musical instruments. Supersonic vocal abilities? She could hit a certain note and render evil doers unconscious. They'd wake up tied up and waiting for the cops.

Now things are just getting silly.

My final stop on the superhero trail was at HeroMachine 2.5. This is an improved version of the generator that created Willow Whip all those years ago.

I think this one turned out a bit better. It looks like she might have the power to manipulate molecules or maybe generate a charge to throw at bad guys.

Not sure about the emblem on her chest. I was looking for another ankh but no such luck. There definitely needs to be some kind of design on her costume. It's pretty visually boring other wise.

You should be grateful I resisted putting a cell phone in her left hand. I don't think texting people to death is a genuine super power. It's just annoying.

I will be the first to admit I don't know  a thing about being a comic book hero. The only superhero comic I ever read was Space Ghost. That was so long ago I don't remember what was going on. 

I know that a lot of people take their superheros seriously. I hope I haven't offended anyone. This was all just a distraction while I decompressed from my computer meltdown. One super power I could really use would be the ability to make any technology work any way I wanted it to. I would be such a happy camper. The Happy Camper. Is that a good superhero name?

PS: According to the Superhero Name Generator, my superhero name is The Illustrious Mariner. I think I might stick to Willow Whip.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Can Haz Tardis!

I love Second Life. You can have just about anything you can imagine there. As long as it's legal. There's a price for everything. Even a tardis. The one on the right is a "low prim" freebie but the maker also makes one with all the bells and whistles for L$250. I'd buy one but I have no room in my home. I'm currently using just about all my prims. Besides, until they build a tardis that actually works as a transporter I have no use for one.

The problem with Second Life is that there is so much to buy. I still haven't figured out what makes one hairstyle worth L$50 and one worth L$250. I know the difference is the amount of prims but are more prims always better?

Maybe I would be less confused/cynical if I hadn't just paid L$1200 for a top of the line set of female genitals. That was my second most expensive purchase so far, after my bedroom suite (L$3000) which doesn't all fit in my "starter" home (damn those prims). It's a good thing L$1 = $.01 USD. It's also a good thing that Linden Labs pays premium members L$300 a week. I can save up for something really special. Like my own piece of land...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Hawk Has Left The Building

Day 2 of the puppy cuddling convention.  Got to spend time with a 15 month old yellow lab named Jenga.  I didn't think to get a picture before she left so I had to make up for it by taking NUMEROUS pictures of the 9 week old Hawk.  You can watch a short video of him and his litter mates here.

Everything was really quiet at first, we had Jenga and Jolie, some other advanced training dogs and  a couple of working dogs. There were a few people around. Without warning Hawk entered and the crowd went nuts. He was just one ginormous people magnet. It was crazy for a while. Who can resist puppies? Hawk just left his mom on Friday. He handled all the people like a trooper. He even fell asleep while someone was petting him. I had to go and get a cuddle with him at the end. He's heavy. Close to 20 pounds I'd bet. He's going to be huge when he grows up. Just check out the size of his paws.

Some people came back again and again to get cuddles. I loved the people who were trying to pretend that they weren't coming over for cuddling. Like there was some other reason for them to be in that corner of the place. One guy looked a lot like Mark McGrath from Sugar Ray. He overheard me talking about the people trying to pretend they weren't coming for the puppies and he blushed a little. So cute.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Better Day All Around

I spent most of the day at the Vancouver Convention Centre. PADS is the charity of choice for this year's MPI convention. I tried to get a puppy for the weekend but the EPE puppies all have kennel cough so they can't come out and play. I would have taken one of the advanced dogs but I don't have a kennel big enough and there was no way for them to bring one to me. I was a bit disappointed.

The puppies were a big hit. We had three of different ages in the morning and four in the afternoon. The little girl catching some Zs above is Olympia. She's 12 weeks old and one of the calmest puppies I've ever seen. She took all the attention in stride.

Tomorrow some of the 9 week old puppies that were featured on the news last week are going to be there. They're all cute as buttons so it should be a big draw. Everybody loves the dogs. People were walking away from the cuddling area with big smiles on their faces. I think it's a lovely thing to have at a convention. Everyone needs some down time. Jaguar (Jag) at the left was more than happy to have people come over and pet him. He's 15 months old and in advanced training. Handsome boy!

I talked to a lot of people about the puppies I've raised. I managed to find a picture of Quincy in a news clipping in one of the PADS binders. I also managed to connect to Facebook to show a few pictures from my photo collection. Of course there were plenty of other people who could whip out photos of their darlings to be fussed over. You gotta love dog people.

"Yesterday Was Your Birthday" Doesn't Have The Same Ring

Yesterday was my 46th birthday. I call for a do over. I don't mind getting older. I am truly looking forward to my "Crone" years. Aside from having to have strange conversations with my doctor about what happens during perimenopause, I'm cool with the aging thing.

What made yesterday so bad was a huge technologically malfunction. The problem started about 10 pm July 21st.  I as doing a routine clean up of my hard drive. You know the thing under "properties" that gathers up all the useless files and lets you get rid of them? So I did that and then a "defrag" then a "dialog box" told me I should run an error check. The machine had to reboot. I let it do it's thing. Unfortunately something went wrong and the error check didn't start and neither did Windows.

I ended up having to re-install Windows. It wouldn't let me do that unless I reformatted the disc. No problem I thought. The only things I keep on my C drive are program files that I either have discs for or can download from the internet. I knew I'd have to download new drivers for everything but a while back I got a driver scanner program that found the proper drivers and installed them. I figured it wasn't such a big deal.

Things were not finished going wrong. Windows didn't install properly. So I had to do it again. Worse that that my D drive, where I do keep all my important stuff, was totally screwed up. It read as unformatted and 100% full when I know it's only 40% full. I was able to tell that my files (all my writing and pictures not one the internet) were still there I just couldn't access them.

To top that all off the driver scanner program would not work. I managed to hunt a round and find a video driver. I couldn't find an audio driver and finally gave up around 4 am and went to bed. At 7:30 am the restoration work going on around my building started up with a jackhammer. SIGH.

I spent a few more hours trying to fix my computer and around 1:30 pm I decided to give up and go out and do something fun. I had a coupon for a chocolate shop called CocoaNymph so I hopped on a bus. Turns out the place is not your average chocolate shop like Purdy's or Rocky Mountain Chocolate (does anyone else find the picture on the front page just a little bit disturbing?) CocoaNymph serves coffee, lattes etc. They also have live music every now and then. The place is very small. It's been around since 2008 so I guess that's a good sign.

It certainly has unique way of displaying it's wares. On the top of the piano is a sample of each of the Baker's Dozen (13) chocolates. Not a lot of choice but since I'm usually complaining about too many choices I shouldn't complain about this. They also sell chocolate bars and handmade marshmallows.

Before I continue, I'm going to admit that I'm not much of a chocolate person. Often I can't tell the difference between really good chocolate and the kind you get in your Nestle chocolate bars. I prefer milk chocolate to dark. Don't be hating!  After tasting CoacoNymph's wares I've found I'm very picky about my chocolate. I realize that they are trying to be different. Standing out in a chocolate crowd is hard. I'm sure real chocolate fanatics will love the place.

I ended up buying (with my coupon) a box of 8 and a decaf latte. I had a bit of trouble picking 8. I would read the list and like a chocolate only to find one ingredient I can't stand. I know it's anti-Canadian but I hate maple. I don't want anything maple flavored. This shop seems to love putting maple in or on things. Yuck! There was one that I liked called Barnabas the Tortoise which sounded really good ( soft caramel and milk chocolate center, lightly flavored with brandy) until it was topped off with a maple glazed pecan. If that pecan had been honey glazed I would have bought 8 of those.

I was looking forward to tasting one kind of chocolate that I had heard about called the Elphaba. When I first heard of CocoaNymph I was reading Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Elphaba is the WW of th W's first name. The chocolate is white chocolate and pistachio ganache. I love pistachios and I'd never even considered putting them together with chocolate. Too bad the dark chocolate coating is mixed with cardamom. It tasted weird. Sort of like mint (which I hate) but not quite.

Then there was the Illa (dark chocolate ganache and caramel) which was great until I hit the crystals of salt on the top. I hate salt. I don't mind a little bit in things but I can't stand getting a raw hit of it covering something. Blech! There was one I really liked called the Melissa (Honey Crunch) which was hazelnut milk chocolate mixed with crispy biscuit flakes and honey. It was good. I should have gotten 8 of those.

When I got home I ate 3 pieces before thinking I should have taken a photo. The 5 survivors at the right look pretty good. I call your attention to the two in the bottom row. The one on the right is the Illa with the offending salt crystals. The other one is "The Liz" which is described as "a rich, white chocolate and vanilla centre, enrobed  in dark chocolate and garnished with gold" - ignoring the grammatical errors in that sentence - I call your attention to the picture. See that little light spot in the middle? That's the gold. One tiny little fleck. Hardly worth mentioning to my way of thinking.

I'm not going to say much about the burnt flavor of the latte. I dumped it in the trash on the corner. I will admit I was in a bad mood. And I'm not a big fan of chocolate. I just get a craving for it every once in a while and I was really looking forward to trying out this new (to me anyway) place. I did like the shiny silver box the chocolates came in. If you're more into chocolate than I am I urge you to try CocoaNymph out for yourself. What's that? You don't live in Vancouver? No worries. They will ship. Anyone can buy. Yes, even people in Ireland Miss C. :-)

After picking up my chocolate I did some shopping in a dollar store and got a bunch of stuff I needed and a container of purple glitter and a glue stick. Don't know what I'm going to do with them yet but I'm sure I'll think of something.

When I got home I went right back to work on the computer. Some how, in the few hours I was gone my video driver disappeared. I was finally able to down load an audio driver which I am thankful for because it allowed me to talk to a friend on Google Talk until almost 4 am. I am most grateful for that pleasant conversation and I'm glad he had the patience to "talk me down" from my computer agro.

Being a masochist, I went back to work on fixing my computer until 5:30 am. When I couldn't keep my eyes open I called it a day. I'm hoping to catch up on missed sleep sometime this weekend but I'm not holding my breath. It's already 1 am and I'm not tired. I have to be up at 8 am. SIGH.

Next year I'm skipping July 22nd altogether.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I'd never heard of Wikileaks then I got an email directing me to the TED talk above. Now I'm hooked. I think it's a great idea. I think there should be somewhere for people to "leak" documents that could lead to positive social change. I think secrets are inherently bad. A lot of shit goes on behind closed doors that if the "people" new about it they'd do something to stop it. Shining a light is never a bad thing.

Sure there's room for abuse and/or manipulation. That's where the verification process comes in. If they can't verify it they say so. Just by putting it up they get the needed verification when the author of the document complains. Not a perfect system but it works. 

The shame is that they are victims of their own success. They're getting so many documents they don't have the manpower or the money to get them out in a timely fashion. They need help. They need money. When "regular" news organizations can't/won't present the whole story there has to be some outlet for "secret" documents. I'm crossing my fingers that Wikileaks goes on for a long, long time.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What's Up With Miley?

I was channel surfing a few days ago and came across Joy Behar telling Perez Hilton that he published child pornography when he published a link of Miley Cyrus with some of her privates showing on his Twitter feed.

The photo is nowhere to be found now. The link Hilton posted is dead. Supposedly she was getting out of a car in a very short skirt and gave the people a good look. From Hilton's comments on the Behar show people originally thought that she wasn't wearing underwear.

I did find a couple of live performances by Miley from the Much Music Video Awards. I noticed two things about "Can't Be Tamed." Number one, that outfit leaves very little to the imagination. Hilton published a picture from that performance with her crotch dead center which has caused more upset. If it had been Lady Gaga (and it has been) or Madonna no one would bat an eyelash.

It's only because she's 17 that people are getting their knickers in a knot. Maybe they should. I wouldn't let my underage child to wear sexy/revealing clothes and dance or pose in a seductive manner. They could do what they wanted once they hit 18 but until then I'd keep everything under wraps. But that's just me. There's an argument to be made that Miley hasn't been a child in anything but age for a long time... not going to go there.

The other thing I noticed about this video (besides how badly it was being sung) was what the dancers were wearing. The costumes and props make them look like Aboriginals with spears and clothes made out of some kind of hide. At one point the choreography has them "carrying" Miley tied to a bunch of spears a la the old cannibals in cartoons and movies. Remember that the title of the song is "Can't Be Tamed" which implies that the dancers are wild or uncivilized.  And no one has said boo about it.

The second video is of "Party In The U.S.A."  which features Miley and her female dancers wearing scarves in their hair a la Snoop Dogg. As Hilton points out it's very "barrio." I can't help wondering why Miley has to borrow from other cultures. Possibly because she has no culture to call her own. I just find it weird when people appropriate things from a culture they're not part of and probably don't really understand.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I Need To Break A Bad Habit

Steampunk desktop.Image via Wikipedia
For some strange reason I like to sign up for things. Especially if I think they may be remotely cool. My doctor convinced me to sign up for an HPV study that will last for two years at least. Okay. That doesn't sound very cool. If it will help create a test that will spot cervical cancer earlier than the current pap smear I'm all for it.

So the latest thing I've signed up for is "an academic study of mutliplayer online video games." What it means is that they're going to throw a bunch of strangers into a situation and have them try to solve a mystery. At first I hesitated to sign up because the study is being conducted in a "steampunk" sim. Hell, until today I had only the vaguest idea what steampunk was. Hint: Wild Wild West and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were steampunk movies.

I spent the afternoon looking at (and buying) Victorian dresses (SIGH) and hats. I haven't found any shoes but that's next on my list. Then I'm going to go to the library and get some reading material to help me along in my self directed crash course.

If you're interested in participating in this study get yourselves to THIS PAGE
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Thursday, June 10, 2010


You might have noticed that I haven't been around that much lately. I've become addicted to Second Life or SL. I've long been interested in Virtual Reality (VR). While it hasn't quite gotten to "hollodeck" quality, there are some fascinating things available in VR.

I've learned a couple of things about myself. Given an unlimited bank account, I become a shopaholic. The currency in SL is "Linden Dollars" (L) and one L is equal to $0.01 USD. There are also numerous "freebies" to be had. Almost every store will offer a "gift" to their members. Membership is usually free. Some stores also have a "Lucky Chair" that will give you a prize from the store if your names begins with the letter they're looking for. Letters usually change every 10 minutes or as soon as someone wins. While writing this I realized that I won a prize in a lucky chair this morning but I have no idea what it was. Or if I actually got the prize.

Last week I spent almost 3 hours in a store trying to win a dress that was no longer available for sale. I did get the dress but it was a long 3 hours. I would never do such a thing in Real Life (RL).

I went to Farpoint Station and bought a uniform from every Trek crew (except Voyager which is basically a DS9 uniform) plus a "Female TOS Captain" and an Orion Slave girl avatar. I also bought a pair "Vulcan" pjs and a set of Federation pjs. See? Totally overboard. Don't even get me started on the Stargate stuff.

In just a couple of weeks my inventory has grown to over five thousand items. I've actually had to spend time in world organizing stuff. I'm starting to rethink my "If it's free, it's for me," motto. I've also started buying things for a male avatar (I have a couple) in case I get bored of being female. I also had a couple of dragon avatars in case I get bored of being human.

I'm lucky I actually signed up for an account in Feb. and I got free Lindens. If I was starting fresh now I wouldn't have the money to spend. As it is I've spent almost half of the money. I think I might have to get a job. There aren't a lot of obvious ways to make money if you don't make things to sell. You can be a model, an exotic dancer or an escort. I was looking into escort training. It will cost me $18,000L (about $70 USD) to go through all the "classes."

I've also been looking into geisha training. It seems like a lot of work but at least there's no sex (virtual or otherwise) involved. I'd have to make a new account because the geisha schools are touchy about their trainees being connected to anything of a sexual nature. I'm in a couple of groups that, while not anything overtly sexual, would not go over well in gieshadom. To be a giesha I'd need a whole new avatar and a bunch of new clothes. I have no idea what the training would cost but they expect you to be available between the hours of 4 and 9 pm PST. Anyway, I have a little time to do some research because you can't apply until your avatar is a certain age. You also need 4 SL references. SIGH.

There are some cool places to go in SL. I like the Cork, Ireland sim. I had no idea that Cork had a sea monster. The Cork sim is not that big yet but it has what is probably my favorite store: A Touch of Ireland. Bought a really cute Mardi Gras outfit there today. Did I really just type that??? SIGH.
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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Second Life's Star Trek Museum To Close

Due to high fees and restrictions placed on the museum by Linden Labs, the Star Trek Museum will close on July 31, 2010. Go and see it before it's gone. The Star Trek Museum is at the TovaDok sim at (24, 212, 34)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stay Away From SwipeBids.com

White MacBook laptopImage via Wikipedia
Somehow in my travels I ended up on a site called SwipeBids. It's an online auction site. You by bid from the company to use on their auctions. Each bid is worth $.01 and you can only bid one bid at a time (except for the gold & platinum auctions in which 5 or ten bids for one $.01 bid. Confused?

According to the site bids on items should only increase by one cent each time someone bid. The auctions have a set time. If the timer gets down past 10 seconds and someone else places a bid then 10 seconds is added to the clock. Sort of like the "going once, going twice, sold" of regular auctions. This is repeated each time the timer gets below 10 seconds and someone bids.

Last night I was on the site and spotted an auction for a MacBook and 5000 bids. It only had a few minutes to run and the current bid was $9 and change. I couldn't pass it up. I started watching and every time the timer got down to 2 seconds I bid. For the next 45 or 50 minutes I watched the price climb cent by cent. I had decided that my limit would be $30. When the bid got to $26 and change I was getting more interested.

All of a sudden, in a couple of seconds, the current bid jumped to over $60. I contacted the site through their online chat and asked how this is possible. Here is the transcript of that chat
you: I was watching an auction and the bid jumped from around $26 to more than $60 in a matter of second. How is that possible?
Sandra: The bidding process is simple. Each product starts at just one dollar. Then, people place bids on the product. Each time someone places a bid, the price of the product rises by 1 cent. The timer keeps going down, and when the auction falls below 5 minutes, if anyone places another bid on the item then the timer will reset to 10 seconds. When bidding stops and the auction ends, last bidder wins!
you: Then it should not have jumped that far. There's no way 100s of bids could have been placed in under 10 seconds
you: Since I've been talking to you it's gone up another $30.
Sandra: One moment please.
Sandra: All bids are governed by our swipebid servers. When a bid is placed, it has to be passed from your computer to our servers to register. If there is any lag (delay) in your internet connection there is a possibility that the timer can run out before your bid is registered.
you: You are still not answering my questions. The bid more than doubled in less than 10 seconds. That's thousands of bid at $.01/bid. I don't believe that's possible.
I was watching the auction and there were only a few people participating. SwipeBids would have me believe that suddenly 1000s of people joined the auction and then left. Then, a few minutes later, they all came back for a couple of seconds and then disappeared again.

What the hell? Was there an auction Flash Mob? Seriously?

While I was bidding I was also watching another auction for a $100 gift card for Wal-Mart. When I started watching the current bid was $1 and change. I looked back at the MacBook auction for a couple of seconds and then went back to the Wal-Mart auction. In those seconds the bid had doubled to $2 and change.

Anyway, after her comment about the SwipeBid servers, Sandra never said another word. Eventually I told her to cancel my account and left.

I think there is definitely something fishy going on at SwipeBids. Buyer beware.
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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Good News/Bad News

Blood test kitImage by ☺ Lee J Haywood via Flickr
I don't have cancer. I just got a chunk taken out of my arm for nothing.... Do you have any idea what it looks like when they've taken layers of skin and it starts to heal? It's grossing me out.

They don't know what I do have. Had to go to the vampire's again so they could take 8 more vials of blood to test. SIGH. I guess I should be glad that my Dr. wants to do more blood work instead of going to the next phase which is a spinal tap. Supposedly they do it in 30 minutes and you leave the hospital in an hour. Still don't want anyone digging into my hip bone. I'm kinda funny that way.

June is filling up with medical appointments. Hopefully it won't be as bad as May (7 appointments in 2 weeks). On top of it all my batteries died in my hearing aids. I thought they were supposed to last for months. I haven't even had them for 4 weeks yet. SIGH.

I'm just going to keep plugging away until I find out what the heck is wrong. The other day I read about a woman who had to go to 100 separate doctors before they found out what she had. I think a lot of the time Drs. think, "well she can't have that," so they don't test for it. I think it's silly to rule things out before you've tested for them.

Why am I suddenly hearing "Tune in next week to Veterinarian's Hospital when you'll hear Nurse Janet say..."
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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Has Anyone Seen This Film?

Franlyn looks like it could be one of those movies that is so bad it's good.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Philosopher's Football Match

This is the only Monty Python sketch that I thought was funny from beginning to end. A lot of their sketches start off funny but then they just go on...

A few years ago I watched a lot of Python because Eddie Izzard narrated a documentary about them. I still don't like them any better.

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Are You Annoyed Yet?

Sir Bob told me to go out and annoy my friends so here you go!

I know everyone is tired of hearing about Africa. The problems are still there. We haven't made enough progress. If you're really sick of hearing about Africa, tell your politicians to solve the problems. Yeah, I know, the problems are really big. The least they can do is make strides in the right direction. They should commit to a plan and then we have to annoy them until they follow through.

It's the 21st Century people! There's no reason for anyone to be living in poverty. Make your politicians do their jobs.

If you've been living under a rock for the past 20 years and have no idea what I'm on about. ClickHere!
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Sunday, May 9, 2010

$6 Million Don't Last Like It Used To

I think I'd like to go back to the day when you didn't see famous people doing commercials. A few days ago I joked that I had a "bionic ear." Imagine my surprise when I heard about the Lee Majors Bionic Ear.  Being curious I had to check it out. Putting aside the fact the Steve Austin had a bionic eye and Jaime Summers had the bionic ear (and she still had to push her hair out of the way!) of course. 

I feel really bad that Majors needed money so badly that he put his name to this kind of crap. At least Lindsay Wagner has a Ford Truck... I took a look at Majors' listing in the Internet Movie Database and it looks like he's been working steadily. They're all minor or guest roles but at least he's working. I can't believe he needed to cheapen his name by having it associated with this shite.

So what's wrong with Major's Bionic Ear? First, it's not a hearing aid like you would get after and audiology exam. This is more like a "hearing enhancer." Like someone shouting in your ear.  Secondly, the way it is sold is misleading: $14.95 (+S&H) to try it and then 3 payments of $99.95 to keep it (over $300 per aid.) That's for one Bionic Ear. 

The refund conditions leave a lot to be desired. You have to ship the Ear and its packaging back to the company at your own cost. The Ear must be in "as new" condition or no refund will be issued. What constitutes "as new" condition is open to the vendor's discretion. They also say you should insure your return or you'll be charged for any damages to the Ear. The cynic in me says that people who are too cheap to buy real hearing aids are not going to want to spend money on insurance. The vendor can then say the the Ear was damaged and not issue any refund.

I've read a few comments about the Ear. The fact that the battery is rechargeable is good but not if the battery doesn't stay charged for a reasonable amount of time. Most people say that the battery doesn't stay charged nearly as long as the vendor says. Some have said it runs out in less than half the time it's supposed to.

If you're really having trouble hearing you should get yourself to a doctor for testing. The Bionic Ear may do more damage in some cases. I believe there are certain things you should not buy by phone, mail or online. Your ears are too important to mess around with.

Now to something else that bugged me when I watched Majors' commercial. I felt that I'd seen the visuals before. Check out this commercial for a product called Listen Up:

A company too cheap to film a new commercial for a new product can't be relied on to have a good product. You've been warned.
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Thursday, May 6, 2010

What I Learned Today.

Today I learned that almost everything I thought I knew about skin cancer was wrong.

I went to see a dermatologist when she was examining my arm she found a mole that "worried her". She said it had to come off  TODAY. It seem that the moles you have to worry about are smooth to the touch and asymmetrical. If they're raised they're fine. She asked me how long I'd had that mole. Since it's on the back side of my arm I'm not very likely to see it unless I go looking. I have no idea how long it's been there.

She called in her resident (a very cute guy) to do the surgery. While he was working I had flashes of what I call "ick moments" from shows like CSI where they cut out a piece of skin to examine it under a microscope. I also got kind of distracted by his crotch being in exactly the right place to be doing something entirely different.

What? I said he was cute!

I made the mistake of looking as he transfered the bloody skin to a jar... I am so glad I did not throw up.

So I now have 8 stitches. I have to go to my GP and get them out in 8 to 10 days. I hope it's a nice scar. Ever notice how scars on men can be really sexy but the same scar on a woman looks bad? The res who cut on me had a cute little scar on his arm.

Speaking of scars, it seems I have a few of them on my back that I never knew were there. I have no idea where they came from. Dr. said I'd probably had them from childhood. Just one more blank spot in my childhood.

In two weeks I'll find out if I have cancer or not.

Now I'm going to be paranoid and searching my body for other "smooth" moles.  I think I might have to invest in a hand mirror. After I get some sleep. Managed 2 hours last night. Not even caffeine is working for me.

I'd love to just sleep for the next two weeks and wake up to get the news. The waiting sucks.
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Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Many of you know that I went to the Vancouver Stargate convention a couple of weeks ago. You may have been wondering why I haven't said anything about it. I could say that I was waiting for my friend Jennifer J. to get her pictures posted so I could put a few of them here. But the truth is I don't really know what to say about it.

I could only afford to go to one day of the con so I chose the day that was mostly Stargate: Atlantas actors. Let me say this, if you ever get the chance to see David Hewlett and Joe Flanigan on stage together run to your nearest ticket booth! They are HILARIOUS. They're both amusing on their own but when they get together everything explodes. You'll never know where they're going from one minute to the next.

Another person you should see is Christopher Heyerdahl who played Todd the Wraith. I like him. He's silly. He also plays a couple of characters on Amanda Tapping's new show Sanctuary. I've been watching the first two seasons and I'm really starting to like it. Chris' big news it that his character John Druitt will be back. 

One of the best moments in his panel was when someone asked him to say "John Sheppard" in Todd's voice. I really love the way he does that. It just sounds so menacing. Shivers.

I also saw Steve Bacic's panel but I couldn't hear a lot of what he was saying (my seat was way in the back of the hall) so I'm not really sure what that was all about. At one point he said or did something that triggered a negative response from me. I don't know what it was but all of a sudden I wanted to get out of that room. I'm sure he's a real sweetheart. My weird reaction doesn't mean anything.

After the panels it was time to line up for the "sandwich" photo op with Joe and David. I was really impressed that they both shook everyone's hand and looked a them while saying hi. What I didn't like was that the photographer said one or two words to get our attention and then snapped the picture. It was all over in less than 30 seconds.

I was asking Joe about him getting on Twitter a second before the picture was taken. I look like a dork. David looks a little goofy too. I bet it's not all that common to have 3 people in a photo smiling without opening their mouths. I was surprised when I got the picture and saw where David's hand was. A few inches over and he would have touched me in a place where, if someone touches me there unexpectedly, I jump out of my skin. That would have been fun.

All in all I spent too much money and my feet got sore. I was entertained for a couple of hours. I need to win a lottery so I can afford to go to a whole convention (and all the parties). I can dream.

Edit: I totally forgot that I also saw Michael Shanks. The only thing I remember about his panel, aside from his "stirring the pot" of SGU hate, was the story of a recent trip to a con in Atlanta. He saw people dressed in animal costumes and thought, "Great, there are some kids shows here." Later he found out about Furries. Shanks asked how many people in the audience knew what Furries were. Quite a few people, including me, put up their hands. He said the rest would have to ask.  Great for kids? As Shanks said, "Not so much."
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